Most of us have heard about the principles of good marketing—A I D A—a message has to

  • Grab Attention
  • Keep people Interested
  • Make them Desire what you are offering
  • And make them Act

So we all work hard on that perfect message, crafting what we are going to say, and how we are going to say it, what methods we’ll use and then …
…nothing happens.

So we say it louder or in a different way…and still no response.

One of my clients complained:

“I keep telling them they have got it wrong. But they just don’t take it on board!”

My client was getting more and more frustrated and angry with his clients who seemed oblivious to a critical problem.  Yet his frustration and anger was making it even less likely that people would listen to him.

He needed to see things from a different perspective, and present his message differently.

It is better to light a candle than to curse those in darkness.

When children are frightened of the dark, they screw their eyes tight shut. As long as they sense the darkness through their eyelids, no matter what you tell them and how often you do so, they will keep their eyes closed.

By closing their eyes, they are shutting out the fearful thing. Telling them that keeping their eyes shut is silly will have little effect.

If you listen, reassure, hold them or light a light, those little eyes will open.

As adults we often behave in a similar way though perhaps not as obvious. Next time no one listens, think about how you could change the way you deliver your message. Ask yourself why people might not want to hear what you are saying. Are you insulting their intelligence or threatening disaster?

Until we feel heard, we cannot think clearly nor can we listen to others.

Giving more reasons doesn’t usually work.

Giving people more information or reiterating logical arguments usually makes them defend their own position even more energetically.  Have a look at this interesting video on an experiment with encouraging people to stop smoking.

Other research comes up with similar findings, that the more you bombard people with information, the less likely they are to change their minds. So what can we do?

Start from where they are

You really need to turn the AIDA message around. What would want to make the clients take action?

First, do some research. What do you know about them? What is important in their life? What do they want to achieve?

Then think how your solution could help them achieve what they want.  If it doesn’t, they are unlikely to change their minds, however, many facts and reasons you give them.

To get people to listen, you need to listen to them and discover what their needs and desires are. Ask, don’t assume. What seems unreasonable to one person makes perfect sense to another. No one is likely to change their mind unless they can see the benefit.

Henry Ford (who sold a lot of cars) said:

If there is any one secret of success, it lies in the ability to get the other person’s point of view and see things from that person’s angle as well as from your own.

Speak in a way that makes it easy to listen

Speak respectfully. Respect that their position make sense to them, so don’t mock or criticise. Ask them how they see the situation. Be as objective as you can and prepared to adjust your position.

Don’t say:

“If only you would be reasonable…”
“It’s just common sense…”

Because what the other person hears is:

You are mad and unreasonable”
“You aren’t as sensible as everyone else”


So to summarise, we need to work backward through AIDA

Action: If people really got your message what would they do? Start with the end in mind–why would make them make them take action?
Desire: Why would they want to do it? If it doesn’t benefit them, they won’t do it.
Interest: Why would they want to find out more?   Is what you’re offering what they are interested in? If not what could you offer that would?
Attention: What would catch their attention—how relevant is your offer to what they need?


So to summarise, if you feel ignored—who or what are you ignoring?

We can’t change other people’s behaviour; we can only affect it by changing our own. You can moan about the way other people respond to you or you can change your message and your attitude until you get the response you want. Do this by

  • Instead of shouting louder to get attention…start listening
  • Look at it from the customer’s point of view
  • Turn AIDA on its head

By the way, it works with kids…even teenagers.

Would you like some help in getting your message across? For tips and links to useful articles on this topic and others, click here.